The Dallas Stars went down three games to none to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday.
A big factor in that third loss was Stars captain Jamie Benn‘s first-period major penalty and ejection for cross-checking Vegas forward Mark Stone in the face while Stone was laying on the ice.
Vegas would score a goal on the ensuing power play and end the first period up 3-0; they’d go on to win 4-0. Benn stormed out the arena early, leaving his coach and non-involved teammates to explain and defend his actions.
Nearly 14 hours later, Benn met with the media about the play. His response was not exactly well calculated.
“That was my first shift of a game on home ice, when you’re pretty jacked up and you’re down 1-0,” Benn said. “So you want to try and get your game going. Emotions are high and it’s just an unfortunate play. I put my team in a tough situation, so it’s pretty unfortunate.
“Obviously, didn’t want to take a five-minute penalty, but when the game happens fast, emotions are high,” he added. “I would’ve liked to not fall on him and I guess use my stick as the landing point.”
NHL referees only hand out match penalties for cross-checking, which Benn received, if they believe a player has attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent.
Benn seemingly plans to go with an “I don’t even know how my stick ended up there” defense which upon viewing the play is somewhat akin to stabbing someone and then feigning ignorance about how your knife ended up in the other person’s body.
“We’ll probably go through the whole play starting from our end and I’ll try and tell them how I was feeling and what was going on in that situation,” Benn said when asked about his strategy in his upcoming hearing with NHL Player Safety for the incident.
On the play, Benn dumps a puck into the Vegas zone and then runs over Stone at center ice. Benn then leans down, seemingly makes eye contact with Stone, and then forcefully extends his stick down right into the prone Stone’s jaw. Fortunately, for the Golden Knights and Benn, Stone was not injured and continued on in the game.
“It didn’t feel good,” Stone told reporters in his own media session on Wednesday. “I think I was more a little bit surprised. It was early in the game, it was my first shift of the game. I didn’t expect to get stomped on like that. But I could hear the ref making sure I was all right and I felt okay to get up. The refs made sure the right call was made.”
The Benn penalty and the overall game situation created a feisty atmosphere inside American Airlines Center, the Stars’ home arena. So much so, that Stars fans rained down trash and any other debris they could find onto the ice when the game became obviously out of reach.
It got so bad that the PA announcer had to warn the crowd about the Stars being potentially assessed a minor penalty if the rowdiness did not cease.
this is the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to the Dallas Stars organization. horrible night to be a fan pic.twitter.com/P5Fs65dWpF
— Luke Evangelist (@lukeevangelist_) May 24, 2023
Stars President and CEO, Brad Alberts apologized to the Golden Knights and the league on Wednesday for how the spectators acted.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) May 24, 2023
Vegas and Dallas will do battle once again in front of those Dallas fans on Thursday. The Stars will be looking to stave off a series sweep and keep their dwindling Stanley Cup Final hopes alive.
Update (5:20 pm): Benn has been suspended two games by NHL Player Safety for his actions.
Dallas’ Jamie Benn has been suspended for two games for Cross-checking against Vegas’ Mark Stone. https://t.co/YBf8qihuCh
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) May 24, 2023
Screenshot via Dallas Stars
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